Black Adam ending explained: your biggest questions answered

Black Adam
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

If you're anything like us, you're still reeling from that Black Adam ending. The latest DC movie wrapped up with an explosive final act featuring some big reveals for the superhero, an almighty battle, and an even bigger surprise in the post-credits scene. But that doesn't mean that all of our questions were answered by the time that the credits rolled. 

To help make sense of these – as well as how the hierarchy of power in the DC universe has now changed – we've taken a deep dive into the Black Adam ending. We've also rounded up what the stars and the creators have to say about it as well, including a tease about future movies on the way.

Although, as you might imagine, we'll be getting into heavy spoiler territory from here on out. And we’re not just talking about plot points and character development, but also a major third-act reveal and the details of the Black Adam ending. So make sure you’ve seen the movie before reading any further.

Black Adam ending explained *spoilers*  

Black Adam begins in the fictional kingdom of Kahndaq where, in 2600 BC, Teth-Adam (Dwayne Johnson) was born. It’s ruled by the evil King Octo who is obsessed with becoming invincible and has set his sights on creating the Crown of Sabbac, but he needs to access Eternium to make it. To achieve his aim, he enslaves his people. When one man mines some Eternium, he thinks he will be rewarded but is brutally killed, causing a young boy who witnesses the brutality to try and start a revolution – even after his father warns him against it. The young boy uses a triangle hand gesture as a symbol to his people, becoming a martyr as the king orders his death. He’s then saved at the last minute by the Council of Wizards who make him a God, granting him superpowers. It seems this is Teth-Adam, but the young boy disappears and hasn’t been seen since.

Cut to modern-day Kahndaq, which is under the rule of mercenaries called Intergang. We meet Ishmael (Marwan Kenzari), Adrianna (Sarah Shahi), Karim (Mohammed Amer), and the young Amon (Bodhi Sabongui) – who’s been narrating the story so far. They’re on a mission to locate the Crown of Sabbac, which Adrianna thinks is the heart of a mountain. However, when they get there, they’ve been tracked by agents wanting the same thing. Adrianna finds the crown, but when her brother's life is threatened, she is forced to invoke "Shazam", which brings Teth-Adam (Dwayne Johnson) back from where he was trapped. His brutal entrance buys them just enough time to escape with the crown as we get to see the anti-hero’s powers in action – and they’re pretty epic. He uses lightning, is seemingly invincible, can fly, is almost as quick as The Flash, and is incredibly strong.

After he decimates almost all of Intergang, he’s taken down by an Eternium rocket, which seems to be the only thing that can injure him (essentially his Kryptonite). Adrianna takes him back to her house so he can recuperate as the news of his return reaches the Justice Society of America. The group – comprised of Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo), Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), and Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan) – has been brought together by Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller to take him down. We get a quick introduction to their powers and then they’re on their way to Kahndaq. The plan is simple: get Teth-Adam to say "Shazam", which will strip him of his powers, and then they can send him to a prison cell.

It doesn’t take them long to find him. Teth-Adam has woken up and is learning that 5,000 years have passed, as Amon whizzes him through what being a superhero means, including the need for a catchphrase. Amon comes up with "Tell them the Man in Black sent you", which seems partly inspired by the movie that's playing in the apartment: they're watching The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, which features Clint Eastwood's The Man with No Name. Of course, the Man in Black is from the comics, but it's also made into a nice nod to Eastwood here.

Teth-Adam finds out the people of Kahndaq have been waiting for his return, and there’s a statue built of him. He’s also told of the wrongs that have been done by Intergang in his absence – so he sets out to vanquish them.

This is where he clashes with the Justice Society – a group against killing their enemies, and instead all about bringing them to justice. This is a concept Teth-Adam struggles to understand. While the Justice Society is trying to negotiate and stop him, we find out that Ishmael actually survived and is on his way to Adrianna’s house to try and find the Crown. He shoots her brother and makes off with young Amon. Ishmael has been working with Intergang the whole time.

Dwayne Johnson in Black Adam

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Meanwhile, Adrianna confronts Teth-Adam about his true identity. Another revelation: the Council of Wizards had imprisoned him after a rampage of revenge against the King. Adrianna had freed him from his prison, rather than a tomb. She still needs his help to save her brother and try and get her son back. She convinces both Teth-Adam and the Justice Society to work together and they head to the Al-Hadidah Mine in the desert, where Ishmael took her son.

The reluctant team-up sort of works, as Teth-Adam goes in, lightning blazing, while the others follow closely behind. They find Ishmael as he asks for the Crown of Sabbac in lieu of Amon’s life as he reveals his plan to rule Kahndaq as the sole surviving heir of King Octo. Adrianna has no choice but to give it to him as she begs him to save her son, as Ishamel shoots Amon. Teth-Adam stops the bullet in its path, before destroying the mine and killing Ishamil in a big explosion, but his actions accidentally hurt Amon who’s rushed back to the ship.

Wracked by this guilt, he shares the truth of his story with the others. He was not the child at the beginning who sacrificed himself – that was actually his son, Hurut. Hurut was the great champion who fought for his people and is the subject of the imposing statue over Kahndaq. But his bravery brought the king’s men to his family’s door. Teth-Adam’s wife was killed, and he almost was too, before his son saved him, giving the Shazam powers to him. But as soon as Hurut gave them away, he was killed by an arrow and Teth-Adam couldn’t help him. He sets out on a path of revenge, which is why the Council of Wizards took his powers from him.

Teth-Adam decides he’s not worthy anymore. He says "Shazam", relinquishes his powers, and is taken to Waller’s prison. The Justice Society is met by Peacemaker’s Harcourt (Jennifer Holland) and he’s put underwater so he cannot say "Shazam" and become the superpowered anti-hero once again. But, the fight is not over. When Adrianna and Cyclone are discussing the crown, they finally work out its true inscription reads: "Death is the only path to life". Ishmael wanted to be killed so he could become Sabbac, a demonic champion created in the underworld with mirrored powers to Teth-Adam.

Sabbac is unleashed in Kahndaq and is intent on becoming its ruler. The Justice Society has no choice but to fight him, but Doctor Fate has had a vision that this will be how Hawkman dies. When they reach the palace, Fate makes the choice to sacrifice himself in his place, blocking the entrance as he goes in to fight Sabbac. On the verge of death, he calls out to Teth-Adam telling him that he needs to return. In a speech eerily similar to The Dark Knight speech, he tells him: "The world doesn’t always need a white knight, sometimes it needs something darker."

Teth-Adam hears these words, escapes from his prison cell, and utters "Shazam" as Doctor Fate is killed by Sabbac. The rest of the Justice Society swam the palace while Amon inspires revolution among the people of Kahndaq as they rise up against the demon. Teth-Adam kills Sabbac, ripping him in half as he utters his catchphrase. Adrianna tells Adam that he could lead the people of Kahndaq, but he doesn’t want to, destroying the throne for good. But he’s happy to be their protector – and he wants a new name: Black Adam.

But wait! There’s a post-credits scene. Waller tells Black Adam that Kahndaq is his new prison and that, if he doesn’t comply, she’ll be forced to call on superpowered beings not of this planet to fight him. We soon find out exactly who she means: Henry Cavill’s Superman, who emerges from the shadows.

What’s next for Black Adam? Why did he refuse to rule? 

Dwayne Johnson in Black Adam

(Image credit: Warner Bros./DC)

After he defeats Sabbac, Teth-Adam becomes the people of Kahndaq’s champion. The throne is waiting for him as Adrianna tells him that he could rule them if he wants to. After briefly sitting on the throne, he decides it’s not right for him and destroys it. It seems he feels much more comfortable as their champion, rather than their ruler having previously been under the tyrannical rule of King Octo.

As for what’s next now that he’s fully embraced his Black Adam name, we know he’ll continue to fight for Kahndaq. However, beyond that, it’s not yet clear what direction he’ll go in as, while he ended the movie pretty heroically, the post-credits scene implies he might lean moe into his villainous side.

What happened to the Crown of Sabbac? 

Black Adam trailer

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Crown of Sabbac melted into the underworld after Ishmael was killed. It’s what allowed him to be brought back as the demons’ champion on Earth. At least for now, it has disappeared. 

Is Doctor Fate really dead?

Black Adam

(Image credit: Warner Bros./DC)

One of the casualties of the final battle against Sabbac was Doctor Fate, who sacrificed himself to save Hawkman. The demon champion killed him, but not before he managed to bring back Teth-Adam. Usually when a superhero dies in a movie, there’s a good chance of resurrection, but it seems like we might have said a proper goodbye to Brosnan’s hero. It’s possible a new character could take on the Doctor Fate moniker but given his helmet also disintegrated, we’d be surprised if the DCEU went down that road.

Although, Black Adam director Jaume Collet-Serra has teased that he wouldn't rule out the character's return in the future. Speaking to USA Today, he said Kent Nelson is "a bit like Obi-Wan Kenobi who dies in the first 'Star Wars' and yet appears in every 'Star Wars'. So we'll all see what happens." Johnson also tweeted that we'll "see more of him."

Brosnan added: "So I think the door is open. I honestly have no idea where this will go. I just know I'm very proud of the work playing Dr. Fate and honored being part of the DC comic book world."

Where has the Justice Society gone? 

Noah Centineo as Atom Smasher in Black Adam

(Image credit: Warner Bros./DC)

After helping to defeat Sabbac, the Justice Society is one member down. They thank Black Adam for his help, and decide to leave him without trying to return him to Waller’s prison. However, it’s very clear that they still don’t see eye-to-eye. While Adrianna thinks that Adam’s darkness allows him to be a greater hero, Hawkman is not convinced by his methods. 

But still, it all ends pretty amicably as Atom Smasher points out they made a pretty great team. Where exactly they’re heading off to after isn’t clear, but it’s probably back to their Louisiana headquarters for a new mission. We’d be surprised if we don’t see these heroes again soon, but nothing has been confirmed yet.

Why does Black Adam say Shazam?

Shazam 2 Easter egg

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Just like Shazam (Zachary Levi), Black Adam was granted his powers by the same Council of Wizards. However, there is a slight difference between the heroes. Unlike Shazam, Black Adam’s powers are instead derived from the Egyptian gods: Shu, Heru, Amon, Zehuti, Aton, and Mehen. The wizards chant these names when Hurut is first given the powers. The Council of Wizards are in charge of these powers as they are the ones who decide whether they can be taken away or not.

Interestingly, Black Adam was originally supposed to be in the same movie as Shazam, given their similarities and shared histories in the comics. However, Johnson convinced Warner Bros. that the character deserved his own movie. "We would be doing Black Adam an incredible disservice," he told Vanity Fair. "It would’ve been fine for Shazam having two origin stories converge in one movie, but not good for Black Adam." 

For more on this, check out our deep dive into whether Black Adam and Shazam are the same.

Is there a post-credits scene?

Henry Cavill as Superman in Man of Steel

(Image credit: Warner Bros./DC)

Yes, there is one post-credits scene. This comes after the stylized credits in the movie and sees Waller appear via a communication link to Black Adam. She’s angry that he’s left her prison cell to return to Kahndaq so warns him that the region is now his prison. Adam is not too pleased with this, telling her to bring on the fight. "There’s no one from this planet who can stop me," he tells her – but what about people from outside of the planet? That’s when Cavill’s Superman appears from the shadows in front of Black Adam. "It’s been a while since anyone made the planet this nervous," he says before the screen cuts to black. There's no second post-credits scene. For more, read our piece on the Black Adam post-credits scene explained.

Cavill has now addressed his return to the role as well. "I wanted to make it official that I am back as Superman," he said in a video on Instagram. "And the image you see on this post and what you saw in Black Adam are just a very small taste of things to come. So there's a lot to be thankful for, and I'll get to that in time, but I wanted to thank you guys most of all. Thank you for your support and thank you for your patience. I promise it will be rewarded." 

Will there be a Superman vs. Black Adam movie?

Superman in Zack Snyder's Justice League

(Image credit: Warner Bros./DC)

What exactly does that post-credits scene mean? It seems like a confrontation between Superman and Black Adam is on its way, but what’s not yet clear when that will happen. No new Man of Steel movie has been announced, nor a sequel for Black Adam, nor a joint team-up, nor a Batman vs Superman-style clash movie.

But something is brewing. Johnson has already been hyping up a fight between the pair on social media, and now one of Black Adam’s producers has shared a bit more insight on what to expect next in the DCEU. "It's never been about a one off or just about a fight," Hirum Garcia told CinemaBlend. "No, it's about so much more than that. We really want to craft a long form of storytelling and show that these two characters exist in the same universe and are going to have to deal with each other often, either on the same or opposite sides. 

"Hopefully they're going to clash at some point, but it's not just about a 'one fight' situation," he continued. "That was never our dream. That does not reward the fans. Fans want to feel a journey between these guys knowing that these guys exist in the same universe." Very intriguing indeed…

Has Black Adam 2 been confirmed?

Dwayne Johnson and Aldis Hodge in Black Adam

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

At the moment, there’s been no confirmation about Black Adam 2. It’s not clear whether a sequel is on the cards for the movie, but what is very clear is that we’ll be seeing this character again. In Johnson’s own words: "#BlackAdam will serve as our phase 1 of storytelling in our DC Universe. Exciting times for the brand to build up and build out." And given that Superman reveal, it seems like he’s going to be a pretty big part of it too.

Johnson also shared recently that they're already working on what's next for Black Adam. "We’re working on 'what’s next' as I type this," he tweeted on October 23. "Exciting times. Stay tuned."

For more on Black Adam, be sure to read our explainers on:

Fay Watson
Deputy Entertainment Editor

I’m the Deputy Entertainment Editor here at GamesRadar+, covering TV and film for the Total Film and SFX sections online. I previously worked as a Senior Showbiz Reporter and SEO TV reporter at Express Online for three years. I've also written for The Resident magazines and Amateur Photographer, before specializing in entertainment.